Saturday, 22 March 2008

Planes, trains and automobiles

This is my first real post it seems. So much for the title of my blog.
But I guess its never too late.

So what are my first impressions of London?.. Well, not exactly first impressions since I've been here before on a short holiday, nevertheless this place looks much different when you look at it from a non-tourist point of view.

As we got off our flight at Heathrow and caught the tube to our Hotel in Paddington the first thing we noticed were the weird and wonderful names the British have given to some of the places here. Some you read and want to laugh out loud. I mean what poor person can say with a straight face that they live in a place called Cockfosters! Not only that imagine it being pronounced in a very British accent by the tube announcements lady... 'This is the Piccadilly line train to CockFosters." As a side note the tube announcements lady Emma Clarke has done some hilarious spoof announcements, which she ended up being fired for by British Rail. Check them out at her website Some people have no sense of humour.

Anyway, getting back to the unusual names thing. There is a tube station called Mudchute. I mean how unimaginative are these people. I want to call home and tell my mum I live in Mudchute. She's worried enough that I'm slumming it here in the UK.
Here's some more that caught my eye:
- Nunhead (poor nun)
- St John's Wood (oh dear)
- Tooting (excuse me)
- Elephant & Castle (umm..?)

Weird names aside the transport in London is top notch. At any tube station here there is a train every 4 minutes. Yes 4 minutes! People still run for trains.. I don't get it.
Apparently 1 billion people use the tube every year, more than 3 million a day. Seriously this is what Sydney needs to aim at if we are ever going to rely on public transport there. In central London, the bus services are also great. Bus stops have estimated time of arrival of the next bus. How good is that? And who doesn't love double deckers?

Trains and buses are all good but when it comes down to it Londoners walk a great deal. Not a lot of people have cars in central London, its not worth driving anyway because of the congestion tax. Coming from Sydney where every person and their dog has a car it takes a while to get used to walking everywhere. I don't mind at all especially if I have sensible shoes on. Speaking of shoes, I better sign off for now. That topic deserves a whole new entry :)